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COBB Wines: No Wine Before Its Time

Many wineries are now offering the 2010 and even 2011 vintages, but Ross Cobb believes in patience. Despite the demand for Cobb wines from mailing list members and restaurants, Ross chose to age each of the following 2009 vintage Pinot Noirs for 20 months in barrel and an additional two years in bottle. The wines are just now being released to restaurants. Ross says,”Aging our Pinot Noirs for a total of almost four years is extremely expensive, but because we make our wines in very small amounts, we are able to do it. Being patient gives our wines time to fully integrate. We know that when a restaurant receives our wines, they may pour them right away, which is why we want them to be showing their absolute best.”

Ross crafts elegant, lower alcohol Pinot Noirs from far Sonoma Coast vineyards. The grapes are typically picked at lower Brix, native yeasts are used for fermentation, some whole cluster is incorporated, the wines are aged with a modest amount of new French oak and released unfiltered. The wines are known to be aromatic. Ross notes, “I aspire to make wines where you will want to smell your empty glass for a half hour after you’re finished.”

I reviewed some of these wines a while back, so it was interesting to see how they show now. When I opened the four wines and poured them into glasses, the room was filled with sweet Pinot perfume. The wines were juicy, with good acidity, balanced tannins, showed very little or no oak imprint, and were impeccably balanced. They are ready to enjoy now, but will age beautifully due to the balance.

Cobb wines are sold primarily through a mailing list with limited restaurant placement. Annual production is about 1000 cases of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Visit

2009 COBB Coastlands Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 295 cases, $70 ($150 magnum). This 15-acre vineyard was planted in 1989 by Ross’s father, David, and his mother, Diane, and is one of the oldest vineyards on the extreme Sonoma Coast. Elevation ranges from 900 to 1,200 feet and sits on a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean four miles to the West. Periods of spring rain or heavy fog can lead to very low yields, and in some years is virtually nonexistent. Yield in 2009 was less than 1 ton per acre. Aged 20 months in 35% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Highly aromatic, offering scents of dark red cherries and berries, bark, root beer and clove. Tasty core of dark red cherries with subtle accents of animale, tobacco and tar. Modest in weight with firm, dry tannins, and finishing with good power and a lively cut of acidity. Showing much better than previously reviewed six months ago. Very good.

2009 COBB Rice-Spivak Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., pH 3.29, 295 cases, $70 ($150 magnum). About six miles inland from the Pacific Ocean near Sebastopol, this vineyard is planted to Dijon clones and Swan selection in Goldridge sandy loam soils with volcanic ash. 25% whole cluster. Aged 20 months in 35% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely perfume evolves over time in the glass, revealing aromas of darker cherries and berries, forest floor, praline and subtle oak. Intensely fruity carrying royally through the mid palate and finish, showing the most body of the wines tasted here. Attractive finesse, with mild tannins, and a lively citrus-infused ending. Very good (+).

2009 COBB Jack Hill Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 140 cases, $70 ($150 magnum). A 2-acre vineyard situated on a steep slope overlooking the Freestone Valley near Occidental. Dijon 115, 667 and 828 planted in Goldridge soils. Aged 20 months in 35% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Darker red and black cherry and berry aromas are featured with hints of forest floor, spice, cigar box, and oak vanillin. Delicious mid weight flavors of cherries, plums and elderberries with an outrageously long and satisfying finish. Beautifully balanced tannins and acidity. Will make any dinner special.

2009 COBB Emmaline Ann Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 260 cases, $70 ($150 magnum). A 3-acre hillside vineyard near Occidental. Two Dijon clones planted in Goldridge sandy loam soil. Exposed to the most shade and fog of any of the vineyards Ross works with. Aged 20 months in 30% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Hi-tone aromas of dark red cherries and berries permeate the air. Ambrosial flavors of dark red cherries, pomegranates, and spice. The most polished wine in the lineup with a silky smooth mouth feel. Finishes with a bold kiss of cherries and juicy acidity. One of the best one night stands you’ll ever have.

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